Cholera Hits Havana Tourism Zones

Thursday, December 27, 2012
From Environment News Service:

Cholera Spreads in Cuba After Hurricane Sandy

A rise in cholera cases in the Cuban capital Havana is being traced back to parts of the country hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, the worst natural disaster to strike Cuba in half a century.

The Cuban government is saying little about reported cases of cholera. But doctors who have recorded new cases of the disease during recent house-to-house inspections say the health ministry has declared a state of alert in the Jesús María and Belén communities of Habana Vieja municipality.

“They’ve found 47 cases in Habana Vieja municipality,” said a doctor, who requested anonymity [...]

The authorities have taken steps to address the new cases in Havana by setting up specialized hospital wards, cleaning up streets and buildings in the Jesús María and Belén communities, and distributing medicines that prevent dehydration.

Health staff have been driving around Old Havana issuing notifications by loudspeaker, telling people what precautions to take, urging them not to try to cure themselves, and announcing training sessions where medical staff will be taught how to contain the “epidemic.”

The authorities are also taking action to stop sales of food that fall short of health and hygiene standards, according to a health worker involved in the cholera identification and public information campaign in Habana Vieja municipality.

All the same, the health worker said, he feared “rising numbers of cases.”

A local doctor said he suspects the government is holding off on officially announcing a cholera outbreak because it might deter tourists from visiting Havana’s old town.